ANA MENDIETA (1948-1985)
ANA MENDIETA (1948-1985)
ANA MENDIETA (1948-1985)
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The Rosa de la Cruz Collection
ANA MENDIETA (1948-1985)

Untitled (Sandwoman Series / Serie Mujer de Arena)

ANA MENDIETA (1948-1985)
Untitled (Sandwoman Series / Serie Mujer de Arena)
sand, earth and binder on wood
55 x 26 x 4 in. (139.7 x 66 x 10.2 cm.)
Executed in 1983. This work is unique and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the Estate of Ana Mendieta.
Estate of Ana Mendieta, New York
Jay Chiat, California
Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1993
"Transcending the Borders of Memory at the Norton Gallery of Art," Art Now Gallery Guide, V. 14, N. 1, September 1994, p. SE 7 (illustrated in color).
B. Merz and O. Gambari, Ana Mendieta: She Got Love, 2013, p. 60 (illustrated).
S. Rosenthal, et al., Ana Mendieta: Traces, 2014, p. 222 (illustrated).
Rome, Primo Piano, Earth Archetypes, 21 March-30 April 1984.
New York, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 November 1987-24 January 1988; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, 1988; Aspen Art Museum, 1990, Ana Mendieta: A Retrospective, n. 141, p. 71 (illustrated).
West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery of Art, Transcending the Borders of Memory: Brito/Martinez-Cañas/Mendieta/Campos-Pons, 24 September-13 November 1994.
Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 23 July-20 October 1996; Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Germany, 31 October 1996-5 January 1997; Barcelona, Fundación Tápies, 21 January-30 March 1997; Monterrey, Mexico, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 28 October 1999-20 February 2000; Mexico City, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, 2 March-4 June 2000, Ana Mendieta, n. 243, p. 203 (illustrated).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 30 June 2004-1 January 2005; Washington, DC, Hirshhorn and Sculpture Garden, 14 October 2004-2 January 2005; Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, 25 February-22 May 2005; Miami Art Museum, 7 October 2005-15 January 2006, Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance, 1972-1985, p. 110 (illustrated in color).
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Selections from the de la Cruz Collection, December 2009-November 2010.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Selections from the de la Cruz Collection, December 2010-November 2011.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Selections from the de la Cruz Collection, December 2011-October 2012.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Selections from the de la Cruz Collection, December 2012-October 2013.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Selections from the de la Cruz Collection, December 2013-November 2014.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Beneath the Surface, December 2014-November 2015.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, You've Got to Know the Rules to Break Them, December 2015-November 2016.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Progressive Praxis, December 2016-November 2017.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Force and Form, December 2017-November 2018.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, More/Less, December 2018-November 2019.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, From Day to Day, December 2019-September 2020.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, A Possible Horizon, September 2020-November 2021.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, There Is Always One Direction, November 2021-November 2022.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, Together, at the Same Time, November 2022-November 2023.
Miami, de la Cruz Collection, House in Motion / New Perspectives, December 2023-March 2024.

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Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Post-War to Present Sale

Lot Essay

In 1983, Ana Mendieta was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome in sculpture, an award that came with a one-year residency at the American Academy in Rome. This would be the first time Mendieta had her own studio; she moved in September. Once resident in the Eternal City, Mendieta felt free for the first time from the burden of being Cuban in the United States. Relatively quickly, she developed a strong affinity for Italy, exploring the ruins around Rome, visiting Pompeii, and befriending artists and local critics.

That autumn, Mendieta started a new cycle of works using sand that she imported, soil taken from the grounds of the Academy, and a binder. From this combination, she created flat floor sculptures based upon the scale of her body of which Untitled (Serie mujer de arena) is a superlative example. It was during these years that the so-called ‘labyrinthine’ figure first emerged in Mendieta’s practice, characterized by the wavy patterned lines as seen in the present work. In Untitled (Serie mujer de arena) channels in the sand both produce and are produced wherein the self—as represented by the outline of the body—and the earth are literally fused, with both coming to constitute the other.

In her brief but incandescent career, Mendieta merged earth and body across a variety of media, from film and photography to performance and drawing. Her practice looked to both contemporary positions—multiculturalism, the role of women—and historical frameworks that transcended time and geography. Born in Cuba, Mendieta and her sister were sent to the United States in 1961 as part of Operation Pedro Pan. After complicated years adjusting to a new home, she eventually enrolled in the University of Iowa’s Intermedia program, established by Hans Breder who became her mentor. The program privileged performance and sought to tear down the divisions between art and life. It was there that Mendieta became committed to her own burgeoning artistic practice.

Many of the themes that would endure in Mendieta’s art initially emerged during these years, specifically ideas around the ‘universal female’, violence, and the relationship between body and nature as embodied by her Siluetas, or silhouettes. A touchstone for nearly all of Mendieta’s later output, the Siluetas were ephemeral, site-specific works she created in Iowa and Mexico which combined her body (or its imprint in the earth) and various organic materials; such legacies are evident in Untitled (Serie mujer de arena).

While her work was tied to the terrestrial, she consumed voraciously everything and anything related to the spiritual. To wit, Mendieta filled her journals with images as varied as Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Villa, and the Valley of the Kings, studied Santéria, and read up on ancient myths. As her contemporary, the artist Carolee Schnneeman said, “Ana became very uncomfortable when someone tried to confine her to a whole set of conditions either of spirit of body or feminist principles because she was more powerfully integrated” (C. Schneeman, quoted in O. Viso, “The Memory of History”, in Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972-1985, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Graden, Washington D.C., p. 67).
While land art proliferated during this period—exemplified by artists such as Robert Smithson and James Turrell—Mendieta refuted this identification. “My work is basically in the tradition of a Neolithic artist,” Mendieta allowed. “It has very little to do with most earth art. I’m not interested in the formal qualities of my materials, but their emotional and sensual ones” (A. Mendieta, quoted in Viso, Unseen Mendieta: The Unpublished Works of Ana Mendieta, New York, 2008, p. 232). Such impulses continued to define her work, which expresses an almost impossible sensuality. The sand sculptures she initiated in Rome are likewise tactile; they beg to be touched.

In an interview conducted in 1984, Mendieta told the artist Linda Montano that her art was about Eros and the relationship between life and death. Certainly, with its horizontality and use of soil, it is not difficult to project ideas around mortality onto Untitled (Serie mujer de arena). The inevitable associations with decomposition and reassimilation into the earth further this reading. Yet far from morbid or gloomy, Mendieta’s art was profoundly generative. She sought always connection across time and space. “Art,” Mendieta noted, “must have begun as nature itself, in a dialectical relationship between humans the natural world form which we cannot be separated” (A. Mendieta, quoted in B. Clearwater, “Introduction: The Ruestrian Sculpturers Photo Etchings”, in B. Clearwater, Ana Mendieta: A Book of Works, Miami, 1993, p. 11).

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